What is an Expungement?
When attempting to find out if you qualify for expungement of your criminal records, call us at the Law Office of Wais Azami in Garden Grove. We provide expungement services for Orange County, Inland Empire, and Los Angeles County residents. Please read the following to help understand whether you qualify for an expungement of your criminal record.
You must understand that if your petition is granted under Penal Code 1203.4, your case is not sealed. Your criminal record is not actually “expunged” under this statute. That term implies complete erasure as if there was no such case. A better proper term is “dismissal.” The conviction remains on your record for many purposes such as law enforcement jobs, sex offender registration, and immigration and naturalization. What the statute provides is, except as elsewhere stated, the defendant is released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense’. There are various limitations to this relief.
An adult who was granted probation, met all the terms of probation, and is no longer on probation, is eligible for relief under this statute. He or she must not be on probation or serving a sentence, for any other offense, anywhere (Penal Code § 1203.4).
If you were denied probation, you can still obtain an expungement. You still cannot be on probation or serving a sentence for any other case. People must wait for one year after their conviction before applying for expungement (Penal Code§1203.4a).
If your criminal case was reduced to an infraction, you are eligible for an expungement under Penal Code section 1203.4a.
What Can an Expungement Do Exactly?
- Result in a new entry in the court record showing the dismissal of the case.
- Allow you to answer many, but not all, job applications that you have not been convicted of. If, however, you are applying for a government job or a job that requires a government-issued license, certificate, or permit, or a job that involves a security clearance, the conviction will be discovered; in such cases, you should disclose the initial conviction and its later expungement.
- Prevent the use of the conviction to impeach you if you testify as a witness unless you are being tried for a subsequent offense.
- If the conviction was for a felony, expungement is the first step in obtaining a pardon.
It will not:
- Remove the conviction from your “Rap Sheet” – California and FBI criminal history records will still show the conviction and the later dismissal “per PC 1203.4”;
- Reinstate the right to possess firearms, it was taken away (reduction to a misdemeanor may accomplish this if the offense is not one of violence;)
- Remove the requirement to register as a sex offender per PC290. If the expungement is granted, registrants must then complete and file paperwork requesting a Certificate of Rehabilitation, when eligible. A Certificate of Rehabilitation will relieve specified sex offenders from further registration. This is true for both felony and misdemeanor convictions.
- Allow you to omit the conviction from applications for government-issued licenses.
- Seal or otherwise remove the court case file from public inspection; anyone who knows where to look will be able to find the court case file (probation reports are in confidential files and are not subject to public inspection 90 days after sentencing).
- Prevent the conviction from being used as a “prior” or “strike prior” to increase punishment on a subsequent conviction.
- Prevent the conviction from being used for impeachment purposes on a subsequent offense.
- Prevent the conviction from being considered and used to refuse or revoke government licenses and permits such as real estate sales licenses, teaching credentials, bus driver licenses, security guard certificates, etc.; however, the expungement may reduce the weight given the conviction by the licensing agency.
- Prevent the conviction from being used by INS for removal and exclusion purposes.
Certificate of Rehabilitation
A Certificate of Rehabilitation (“COR”) is a California court-order declaring that a person previously convicted of a felony (or misdemeanor sex offense) is now rehabilitated. The purpose of the COR is to restore civil and political rights of citizenship to ex-felons who have proved their rehabilitation.
- Relieve some sex offenders, as specified, of further duty to register. (Pen. Code, § 290.5.)
- Enhance a felon’s potential for licensing consideration by a State board. (Pen. Code, § 4853.)
- Serve as an official document to demonstrate a felon’s rehabilitation, which could enhance employment possibilities.
- Serve as an automatic application for a gubernatorial pardon.
It will not:
- Erase the felony conviction or seal the criminal record. (Pen. Code, § 4852.17.)
- Prevent the offense from being considered as a prior conviction if the person is later convicted of a new offense.
- Allow a felon to answer on employment applications that he/she has no record of conviction.
- Give a felon the right to vote, because this right is automatically restored after discharge from parole.
- Restore the right to own or possess firearms.
People who have been convicted of a crime in California may apply to the Governor for a gubernatorial pardon. A gubernatorial pardon is an honor that could be granted to people who have demonstrated exemplary behavior following their convictions. A pardon will only be granted if it’s earned. Pardons are very rarely given.
Generally, the first step in applying for a pardon is to obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation from the Superior Court in the county where the applicant currently lives. People who live outside of California and people who are ineligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation must use the Application for Gubernatorial Pardon. The procedure used will depend on the circumstances of each applicant.
- Allow a felon to serve on a jury trial. (Code Civ. Proc., § 203 subd. (a)(5)).
- Allow restoration of firearms rights, upon federal approval, to specified offenders who have obtained a certificate of rehabilitation if granted a full and unconditional pardon, unless the conviction was for a felony involving the use of a dangerous weapon. (Pen. Code, §4852.17).
- Allow a felon to be considered for appointment as a county probation officer or a state parole agent, but not to any other peace officer positions. (Gov. Code, § 1029, sub. (c)).
- Allow specified sex offenders still required.
- to register after obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation to be relieved of their duty to register if granted a full and unconditional pardon. (Pen. Code, § 290.5.)
It will not:
- Seal or erase the record of conviction. (Pen. Code, § 4852.17).
- Prevent the pardoned offense from being considered as a prior conviction if the person is later convicted of a new offense.
- Allow a pardoned person to answer on employment applications that he/she has no record of conviction.
- Restore the ability to own a firearm to felons convicted of any offense involving the use of a dangerous weapon. (Pen. Code, § 4854).
- Pardon convictions from another state, or federal convictions.
- Necessarily prevent deportation.